When Gary Cryder retired from the Army – he served in the 101st Airborne Division outside of Fort Campbell, Kentucky – he knew he wanted to work for himself. He looked at 26 different franchise systems, and Maui Wowi was one of the first.
“The concept seemed attractive, and being a coffee lover myself – after 22 years in the Army drinking a whole lot of it – I was well aware of how much money people are willing to spend on their coffee,” said Cryder.
For the past four years he’s operated a mobile Ka’anapali Cart and a catering unit out of Nashville, Tennessee, and he has the option to grow his business by adding additional Ka’anapali Carts.
Were you actively looking for franchises for veterans?
Yeah, both on my own and with my franchise coach. I knew there were many franchises for veterans that offered discounts. So, I started looking at those first because who wouldn’t want a discount when they’re going to buy a franchise? Another reason was the opportunity for veterans to be involved in those systems. You have an instantaneous bond when you know someone’s been in the military. I’ve experienced it being a business owner. When they find out that I’m prior Army, it’s like an instant brotherhood or sisterhood.
Do you know many people who are looking for franchise opportunities for veterans?
Absolutely. I had a conversation with Mike Weinberger, our brand president, and quizzed him: Do you know how many veterans you have in your system? It’s kind of shocking. Veterans are one of the more successful demographics we have in society today in business both as an executive or starting their own business.
I’ve run into a lot of people who have started their own thing or bought into a franchise system. My military experience played an integral part in the business in general. There are so many traits and processes that I’ve learned as a soldier and a leader that carry over. One of the biggest is our trained ability to deal with stress and anxiety.
It takes a lot of courage to take that first step to start a business. Where some may let that step intimidate them, I believe our experiences in combat or in the military make us a little bit more willing to commit and try our best without letting fear of failure control our decisions. Mission accomplishment is always the goal in the military, and that’s a goal that translates to the business world as well. Whether you’re a business owner or an executive, you know there are going to be challenges, and you’re taught how to deal with those.
Some people call it stubbornness, I call it drive. Troop leading procedures, the military decision-making process, problem-solving, we’re trained on leadership because that plays a role in everything. We also know how to follow a plan; that’s basic for soldiers. You get what’s called an op order, you go out and you follow the mission. The commander or the exec puts his intent out there, and you do the mission to meet the intent. You can always add to it, you just can’t take away. We learn how to adapt plans to make them better as we go, if we can.
So, following instructions from your franchisor is no problem?
No, it’s a proven technique, and I learned in the military, you’re not going to always be right. If someone has more experience than you, you default to that experience. If they’re smarter than you, and there’s a technique they can teach you to be successful, you drain them of knowledge.
What has your experience been like as a franchisee?
My franchise experience has been enjoyable with Maui Wowi®. The way they operate is more like a family, and that’s very similar to the military. Everyone wants to thrive, and the brand will do their best to help you solve issues or to give advice when and where they can. It’s not a sink or swim attitude: Here’s your equipment, go. See ya later. Don’t call us for anything. They’re actually there to help you. But you have to be willing to listen. I’ve told some of my buddies who are looking into franchising: You’re gonna have to work hard, that doesn’t go away.
You meet so many different people. My job in the military was as a military police officer. We pulled security for VIPs, Congresspeople, Vice President of the United States, the First Lady, I’ve done all of that. For somebody new to the franchise, you meet a lot of celebrities and professionals, people from all different walks of life. I did a cardiologist conference, and I met heart doctors from all over the world. That’s great for me because I have a son who’s had open heart surgery. You develop professional relationships and personal ones too.
Would you recommend the Maui Wowi franchise for veterans?
Yes. When you look at the concept and products, it’s pretty simple. You just follow the plan that’s established. After 22 years of service, the idea of working for yourself is very common for people like myself. When you work for Uncle Sam you go where he wants you to go, when he wants you to go. If some of my veteran brothers and sisters are going to put in the same work ethic and use those same traits and skills they’ve learned, that drive will carry over. The concept is easy to understand and lucrative if you follow the business plan.
I will say, as a military police officer, we’re very strict and firm in how we talk to people. So, my customer service was not A-plus when I first got out of the military. My wife had to help me out a lot with that. She’d go, “honey,” and I’d say, “yeah, I know. I’m not in the military anymore.”
Also, Maui Wowi® gives you a list of basically every franchisee in the system and carte blanche to call them, which shocked me. I thought this might be an organization that has integrity because they’re not trying to hide anything. Integrity is an integral part of any organization. That impressed me a lot.
If you’re impressed by what you’ve read here, you’ll also be interested to know that veterans receive 20% off of the initial Maui Wowi franchise fee. Please click here to learn more about our franchise opportunities for veterans.
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